No Tacoma LNG – Overview

The information posted below is also available in google doc form: Tacoma LNG Facility Overview

The Project

  • 8 million gallon liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility – equivalent to 4.8 billion gallons gas in vapor form – in the Port of Tacoma on the Blair / Hylebos peninsula tideflats
  • 33 acres (30 acres of upland and 3 acres of aquatic environments)
  • $310 million
  • The facility will liquefy 250,000 to 500,000 gallons of natural gas daily to -280 F.
  • The facility will consist of one eight million gallon LNG storage tank and infrastructure for loading marine vessels, bunker barges and trucks.
  • Two new segments of pipelines will be added to the PSE distribution system – a one mile distribution pipeline in Pierce County and a four mile distribution pipeline to extend from the city of Fife into Tacoma to reach the liquefaction facility.
  • Complex facility would have liquefaction, cooling, refining, regasification, bunkering, tanking, barging components; 4 flare stacks for diesel generators; several 4500 to 9700 gallon tanks holding proprietary heavy hydrocarbons for processing
  • FEIS numbers from Wilma Subra via Redefine Tacoma

Further reading:

Three Purposes for Facility

1-Maritime Fueling

  • Fuel two Totem Ocean Trailer Express (TOTE) ships that travel bi-weekly between the Port of Tacoma and Alaska
  • Ships to use 125,000 of LNG per week
  • TOTE ships could be in compliance with 2020 International Maritime Org. /Emission Control Area limits with low sulphur diesel using engine scrubbers instead of using LNG
    • Other shippers, i.e. Matson, are already in compliance with scrubbers
  • TOTE prefers rate-payers/publicly subsidized LNG vs. paying for upgrade
  • NOTE: energy density of LNG is ½ that of heavy fuel oil
  1. Industry expert: #LNG bunker fuel could be worse 4 environment than heavy fuel oil.
  2. Methane leaks from LNG bunkering can negate environmental advantages.
  3. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) criticized the “weak safety culture” of ship owner Tote Maritime  and here

2-Peak Shaving (7% of capacity)

  • Provide peak shaving support for residential natural gas users during cold winter days
  • LNG is stored onsite; tapped during high demand

3-Selling LNG to other industrial customers, either terrestrial or marine: Unspecified

  • No such buyers have signed on yet. (Oct. 2016)
  • PSE seeks customers for products / services beyond stated scope in 2015 EIS

From 350.Tacoma: “PSE plans to barge LNG to Seattle to fuel ships. They’ll transfer it via tanker truck or rail cars if they can. They’ll fuel trucks or trains on-site in the Port. City of Tacoma says PSE has only one customer, but that’s not what’s being advertised on PSE’s website.”

1st Marine Bunkering Facility in US

No existing rules/protections

  • Sliding into a regulatory environment that has not caught up with this project type
  • Marine bunkering is new to US; regulatory rules don’t exist

Already in violation of industry standards

  • Facility violates recommendations by LNG industry (American Bureau of Shipping, Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators)
    • Not supposed to located within proximity near civilians; narrow waterways or neighboring facilities that are engaging in activities that could create sparks or fire hazards
    • Sits less than 1/2 mile from Puyallup Tribe’s marina, residences on Browns Point
    • Plymouth, WA LNG  2014 accident – 2-mile perimeter evacuated. Safe siting standards recommend ~3 miles away from population centers.
    • LNG bunkers – supposed to have an exclusion zone – every ship that passes by is considered as an ignition source; there are no exclusion zones
  • Located at a port that is already crowded
  • Major issues in evacuation in event of accident
  • Too far from fire station

City of Tacoma closed the fire station #15 due to lack of funds; PSE is putting $ towards re-opening fire station; funding in future unknown

Industry/Federal recommendations are non-binding

  • Falls on public to apply strict scrutiny which the Port / the City of Tacoma have failed to do

Example – LNG tankers trucks traveling on the roads of Tacoma; roads need to brought to heavy haul standards; PSE/City say 5 years out

Puyallup Tribe

Tideflats are within Puyallup Tribe Reservation

  1. Tribal Council steps up fight against LNG
  3. Halt LNG plant, respect Puyallup tribal concerns
  4. Puyallup Tribe calls PSE out for LNG work without permit
Map showing schools, daycare centers within 1 and 2 mile exclusion zones of site

Siting and Safety

Port of Tacoma and Climate Change

Tacoma tide flats are projected to be inundated with water by 2050 according to City of Tacoma’s Climate Risk Assessment

City of Tacoma Environmental Services Department, illustration of sea level rise, p.14:  The illustration is also available on this web page summarizing the report: Climate Risk Assessment

Site is on and near un-remediated superfund sites

Map showing PSE site overlapping un-remediated Occidental Chemical Superfund Site and Washington State Dept. of Ecology Hazardous Site

Liquefaction Potential of Entire Region

Effects of Magnitude 7.1 Earthquake in the Tacoma Fault Zone: USGS 2002 Report

$310 Million Project

PSE Customers pay 43% Capital Expenditures  (WUTC, 2016 page 27)

$177 million – Puget LNG LLC, a subsidiary of Puget Energy and the Australian-owned Investment Bank, Macquarie Group Ltd.

  • Utilities and Transportation Commission approved this corporate structure that puts customers on the hook for the bill and who assume responsibility if the project fails or catastrophic accident
  • Deal on Tacoma LNG plant would alter 2008 promise by PSE’s parent company. Sen. Chase, 32nd: deal won’t insulate PSE’s ratepayers from the costs of the LNG venture.  “If we ever needed a reason for … public ownership of our utilities, this is it”
  • LLC only required to carry $50 million liability insurance

$133 million – Ratepayers

PSE Customers to use 7%, pay for 43% of the cost

What does Tacoma get out of the deal?

  • PSE will pay no sales tax on construction and gets a $8 million tax break every biennial funding cycle
  • City of Tacoma will pay $1.5 million every budget for fire protection and emergency response
  • State of Washington earns point of sale tax collected (PSE and Puget LNG, LLC incorporated in Bellevue)
  • profits to Australia


  • From PSE spokesperson:
    • 250 construction jobs
    • 15-19 permanent
    • Unclear whether labor drawn from local community


Gas = A Climate Buster

  • Methane – GHG 86X worse than CO2
  • Leakage of methane from fracking wells; along supply chain
  • Previously reported less than 1% percent leakage; NOAA scientist – 7%; additional tests show 11% and 17%
  • LNG needs 3% threshold to maintain “green” cred


  • 90% of PSE ‘s gas comes from wells that fracked
  • 70% of LNG in US comes from fracking today
  • water consumptive process
  • poisons wells around that area fracked
  • impact to people/communities at well head and along supply chain

Fossil Fuel industry determined to turn Pacific Northwest into new gulf coast

  • Northwest Targets – Fracked gas is abundant and cheap and corporations like PSE are looking for ways to monetize and incentivize its use. Hence, LNG, methanol, xylene, anhydrous ammonia, etc

More on Methane Impacts

Supporting documents from authors featured in segment:


Necessary Permits Lacking

*NEW* 1/24/18

PSCAA required PSE to complete a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) with a full life-cycle analysis of the upstream and downstream impacts of the facility’s greenhouse gas footprint, potentially compromising PSE’s ability to secure a permit:

Notice of Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

Construction continues without necessary PSCAA permit

  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency could still be denied and would need to include a 60 da public comments and hearing period. PSE continues to build w/out having this permit in place, choosing to pay fines later.
  1. Construction begun resulting in PSCAA Notice of Violation, number 3-008343
  2. Puget Sound Clean Air Permit – Puget Sound Energy Application LNG Facility Tacoma
  • Other core permits, Clean Water Act and DOE, are contingent based on Clean Air Permit prior to construction
  • Working against state environmental laws

Waiting on Tacoma Fire Department Sign-off

  • Problems with siting, safety, evacuation plans and emergency response; Fire Station #15 closed due to budget

Opponents demand Supplemental EIS due to change in project scope from Final EIS 2015